October 2009

Firefighters found man, 52, with stash of child abuse images

FIREFIGHTERS who arrived to deal with a blazing shed in Barne Barton found a paedophile stashing child pornography into bin bags, a court heard.

John Squance, aged 52, of Old Farm Road, initially told police that some of the material had belonged to his late father, who had died five years before, and he had put it in the shed so his elderly disabled mother would not see it.

Later, however, he admitted downloading thousands of images from the internet and installing a Limewire file sharing programme, and that he did it for his own sexual gratification.

Prosecutor David Gittins told Plymouth Crown Court that, following the firefighters’ visit on April 29, police seized handwritten stories and pictures, as well as Squance’s computer, disks and tapes.

Altogether, he had 6,919 indecent images of children at level 1, the lowest level of seriousness, 262 at level 2, 455 at level 3, 463 at level 4 and one eight-second movie clip at level 4. The highest level of seriousness is Level 5.

Squance pleaded guilty to nine counts of making indecent images of children and one of possessing them.

He also admitted failing to attend a hearing at Plymouth Magistrates’ Court on July 8. Nick Lewin, for Squance, said his client had no previous convictions.

Judge Francis Gilbert QC told Squance that his offences were a serious matter, and downloading child pornography was not a victimless crime.

“There was a victim each time a child was abused to make a film,” he said.

Judge Gilbert sentenced Squance to a total of seven months in jail, suspended for two years and with two years’ supervision by the Probation Service.

He ordered Squance to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for 10 years, to be bound by a Sexual Offences Prevention Order indefinitely and to attend the Thames Valley Sex Offenders’ Programme. He also ordered the computer to be confiscated.